Over the next few months we will be discussing the 15 laws of growth from John Maxwells book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. We will discuss one law per week and sum it up at the end with a complete call to action.
The most important phrase you will ever hear a good leader say to you is “follow me”. – John Maxwell
A few years ago, I started playing golf. Like most people who attempt to pick up the sport, I quickly discovered it is incredibly difficult. Most other sports had come fairly natural to me. I started playing tennis my junior year in high school and ended up playing in college. But golf was a whole other story. I could not figure it out to save my life.
I tried to attack my golf problem the same way I do other problems, by reading about it. I went to the library and picked up every book I could find on golf. After spending hours reading about the proper grip, stance and swing mechanics, I rushed out to the driving range, sure I my golf problem was fixed. Unfortunately, it the results were as bad as ever.
Eventually, after many rounds of ugly golf, I came to grips with the truth, I needed to get one on one private lessons in order to improve. So I coughed up the insane amount of money it costs for golf lessons and a few weeks later, I was starting to play half way decent golf.
The Law of Modeling
Like with my golf game, Maxwell says that we can’t reach our potential by simply reading theories, we have to have real life models to follow. Independent learning and studying is great and should never be overlooked, but personal mentors are absolutely necessary to get us to where we want to be.
But if we need mentors, the next question is who do we choose? I’m a huge fan of reading biographies and Maxwell says that this is a great way to find a mentor who you would never have access to under normal condition. Mentors that we see in real life are still necessary though.
Because of this, Maxwell came up with six criteria for selecting the right mentors:
1. A Good Mentor is a Worth Example
Maxwell says that choosing a mentor who is a great in an area you want to improve, but a lousy human being, is a mistake. We need to scrutinize the personal lives of our mentors as carefully as their public performance.
I think there is a fine line here. I recently wrote how I believe we can still learn from people who do bad things personally. But when it comes to actual mentors who give you one on one advice, I am in agreement with Maxwell. Choose people who set a good example in all phases of their lives.
2. A Good Mentor is Available
Finding a rock star CEO to mentor you might sound great, but will they have enough time and availability to actually help you? Maxwell says that one of the biggest factors in finding a great mentor is how much time they can devote to mentoring your.
Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t have time for you. Choose a mentor who will actually be there.
3. A Good Mentor Has Proven Experience
To know the road ahead, ask those coming back. – Chinese Proverb
When choosing a mentor it makes no sense to choose someone who has never done whatever it is they are trying to do. If your goal is to climb Mt. Everest, would you choose a mentor who has never climbed a mountain, or one who has conquered Everest?
Part of a mentors job is to model the path to achieving what you want to achieve. Choose a mentor who has been where you want to go.
4. A Good Mentor Possesses Wisdom
A good mentor will use their understanding, experience, and knowledge to help us solve problems we can’t solve on our own. They aren’t people who accomplished something great one time and never reflected how they did what they did.
Find a mentor with the wisdom to help you on your journey to personal growth.
5. A Good Mentor Provides Friendship and Support
No one wants to learn from people they don’t feel like and support them. Your mentor is no different. Find somebody who genuinely likes you and supports your goals and ambitions. This doesn’t mean they agree with everything you do- far from it- but it does mean they support why you are doing it.
By finding someone who likes and supports you, you will make the mentoring process much more enjoyable and productive.
6. A Mentor is a Coach Who Makes a Difference in Peoples Lives
No matter what sport you look at, coaching plays an enormous role in the success of the team. My Cleveland Indians improved by a whopping 24 wins this year, largely because they hired an amazing coach in Terry Francona. And not only does Francona make his players better at baseball, by all accounts he makes them better people.
A mentor should play the same role in your life. They should help you achieve your goals while also guiding you to become a better person.
Don’t Over Reach
When looking to find mentors, it is tempting to reach out to big time people. Maybe it’s the CEO of the company you worked at or a celebrity in your profession. While this seems like it would be a great idea, Maxwell actually believes it can be counter productive.
Ideally, you want a mentor who is just a few steps ahead of where you currently are. By reaching too far up the ladder, you could end up with a mentor who no longer remembers what it’s like to be where you are at. As you grow, you can continue seeking out mentors further along the path you want to go.
No matter what our goals in life are, finding the right mentors will be one of the most important factors in our growth.